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Tigers and tigers and tigers, oh my!


In celebration of The University of Memphis' 2012 centennial, The U of M Alumni Association plans to provide Memphis with 6,000 pounds of fiberglass Tiger pride.

The Alumni Association's citywide public art campaign, titled "Tigers Around Town," is a collaborative effort among sponsors, artists and alumni to create 100 unique Tiger statues.

"The goal of our campaign is connecting the city and The University," said Alexa Begonia, coordinator of alumni affairs. "The more people see the tigers, the more they will get a sense for the connection The University has with the city."

There will be a total of 100 Tiger statues, each weighing 600 pounds, sponsored and designed by Memphians. Each tiger will represent a different year.

"One hundred Tigers representing the 100 years The University has been open," Begonia said.

The statues, which will be placed throughout the Memphis community, are life-like representations of a Bengal tiger with an outstretched paw and a ferocious expression.

Senior art education major Brooke Ebersole designed the pose of the Tiger.

"I wanted to explore the different postures a tiger can take in nature, so I used photographic references in my design," Ebersole said. "I found that each posture a tiger takes has its own personality. Ultimately, we decided on a pose that showed a little attitude but had a regal and sophisticated look to it as well."

"Tigers Around Town" is a concept similar to the Germantown Charity Horse Show's 60th Anniversary in 2008, when 21 horses were painted by local artists and placed throughout the Memphis suburb.

The only tiger already on display belongs to the Alumni Association, which had its tiger made early to serve as a sample statue. It is currently on display in the Alumni Center on Normal Street.

"We already have our Tiger," Begonia said. "He is blue with black stripes and a white belly."

The corporation who is molding the statues, Fiberglass Animals, Shapes & Trademarks, painted the Alumni Association's tiger.

The fiberglass tigers will all be 6 feet tall, 2 feet wide and 7 feet long. Local fans, alumni and businesses will sponsor the statues' costs.

Every statue is purchased through the Alumni Association. Buyers can either pay $5,000 to sponsor a tiger statue that they can keep after the centennial celebration or $3,000 to sponsor the statue throughout the 2012 campaign. Those statues will then be up for auction.

"Each tiger will have a plaque with the year, a fact about that year, the donors name or ‘in memory of' and the artist's name," Begonia said.

Joe Biggers, assistant director of alumni affairs, said the Alumni Association could not reveal the artists' names or locations of Tiger statues at this time but encouraged attendance at The Tigers Around Town Grand Unveiling Gala on campus Sept. 10.

The event will take place at noon, making it a sequentially clever date, 9-10-11 at 12 (noon), Begonia said.

After their unveiling, the statues will remain on campus through the holidays and then will be moved to their individual locations in January 2012.


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